Friday Question of the Day – What is your favorite “fast food” lunch options?

Photo by PoPville flickr user rockcreek

I’m not necessarily talking about Taco Bell, though of course that could be an answer, I’m more talking about where to grab quick, good lunches. While I really love Greek Deli on 19th St, NW I can’t stand waiting on line. So it got me thinking about what are the best lunch options around town where you don’t have to wait on line forever? Where’s your favorite fastest food?

127 Comment

  • I work near L’Enfant Plaza, so I’m surrounded by food trucks and my favorite is the Rolling Ficelle. Delicious, and quick!

    Aside from food trucks, I do love some Cave Mezze and there is usually not a “Chipotle” like line when I go in there.

  • Rocklands Barbeque in Glover Park. Fast, cheap and amazing. Get the chopped pork sandwich, or maybe the blue plate special. Some peanuts to munch on in the 3 minutes your waiting and wash it all down with a lemonade/ice tea mix. Best lunch in DC.

    • Rocklands is the best BBQ in DC, hands down

      • justinbc

        No, it really isn’t.

      • If that’s what you really think, you need to get out more. Standard, Hill Country, and Mr. P’s Ribs all serve a better product. Rocklands is adequate, but there’s much better out there. Also, much worse (i.e., Red Hot & Blue).

        • justinbc

          Agreed. Unfortunately pretty much all of them pale in comparison to what you get if you’re willing / able to drive a bit. The options in the actual District are all some sort of fail.

          • And for the record DC in general has an awful BBQ scene. Just because there are a good number of them doesnt mean any are good. Epiphany off GA probably the closest to good.

          • All of those options above ARE in the district. For many people Rocklands is actually the furthest drive (anybody east of 14th basically)

          • Lefty’s in Waldorf, MD. Best in the DMV. I’ve been going since he had a trailer on the side of Leonardtown Rd. in St. Mary’s Co. Imagine my surprise when I moved to DC in 2004 and Lefty’s catered my building’s summer bbq. f you’re lucky enough to live at the Envoy on 16th and Blemont, you’ll experience Lefty’s in July!

          • justinbc

            @anon, yes, I realize they are in the District. My point is that they’re the lesser of evils, and still not very good in terms of BBQ, compared to what you get by venturing out a bit from the District confines. For example, The Pit Stop in Aldie, VA, or Big Bad Wolf in Baltimore. Both don’t really fit the weekday lunch options, but for a weekend excursion, if BBQ is what you’re craving, they’re worth the trip.

          • Have you tried Mr P’s?

          • Kangaroo Boxing Club in Col. Hts. wins my award for worst DC BBQ though. Went there a few weeks ago and it was quite bad.

          • justinbc

            @Jack5 Worst I’ve had in this area is without a doubt from American Ice Co. In fact, it’s very likely the worst BBQ I’ve ever had anywhere.

          • justinbc

            @anon I’ve been to Mr. P’s twice. My review of the first experience is on Yelp if you’re curious, just look for user Fail C.

        • Fair. I probably shouldn’t have been so assertive of Rocklands’ superiority, as it really comes down to preference. Hill Country is good, but I’ll take Rocklands over it anytime. I was underwhelmed by Standard, but that may have been due to the face that it was 90 degrees and there were way too many people there at the time. Thanks for the rec on Mr. P’s, I’ll have to check it out.

          • FYI, Mr. P’s is now in a lot at the intersection of North Dakota Ave. and Bladensburg Rd. (near the new Costco). Lots of references out there on the interwebs still have them at the old location off of Rhode Island Ave NE across from the Metro. Wouldn’t want anybody to go in search of probably the best BBQ in the city limits and come up empty.

          • Der, SOUTH Dakota Ave and Bladensburg. Sorry.

          • Definitely. Hill Country is the sizzler of BBQ.

          • Hill Country and Standard BBQ are both terrible and insanely overpriced.

            I got to check out Mr. P’s – I’ve a lot about him over the years! Does he operate on Saturdays? I’m going to the Arboretum and we need to grab lunch somewhere 🙂

    • I’m with Jayruby – delicious and quick. This question was about best fast food lunch option. South Dakota and Bladensburg is no where near me (home/work) and would take forever to get to.

      Plus – Max’s ice cream is next door if you fancy a dessert (cash only!)

  • In chinatown as long as there isn’t a caps game, Merzi and Protein Bar are my go tos on my way home.

    • I love Protein Bar! Wish they’d open more locations in DC.

    • +1 for Protein Bar. Healthy, quick option.

    • Only went there once even though it is a couple blocks from my office. Food was super bland and pricey. While I might have ordered the wrong thing, the other 3 people I was with ordered different things and came to the same conclusion.

      Any suggestions on what to get?

      • I can only get there on the weekends so I haven’t had the opportunity to try much, but I liked the quinoa chili and my girlfriend got a kale wrap that had a nice tangy flavor. The shakes I’ve had were good too.

      • I was about to try it, but this assessment makes me very nervous. I’ve been burned multiple times by Freshii (bland bland bland and stingy with everything but the rice and lettuce). Maybe I’ll try a shake.

    • Love Merzi, hate Protein Bar. I have not been impressed with the food there.. kind of like healthy food that really tastes “healthy” if you know what I mean. Maybe I’m not ordering the right things either.

  • PoP, you mean the Greek Deli not the Greek Spot. IMO it’s worth the wait and is the best lunch spot in all the land. But if you need very, very fast food, the baguette sandwiches at Pret do the trick.

  • Right around the corner from Greek Deli, on M Street, Bub & Pop’s. Their Italian hoagie is better than it needs to be.

  • I work in Shaw and the Food Korner and Kabob near Howard University has an excellent and delicious 1/4 chicken with two sides for $6 daily. I usually get okra and spinach.. fantastic and frugal.

    • I’m not too impressed by the cleanliness of food Korner, also when they first moved in, they spelled Korner wrong on their sign and had to repaint it… I’m guessing they used the “K” to cover the original mistake. It used to be a 5 Guys, they never renovated afterwords.

      I prefer China Wonder, they have never really let me down. Negril has though, they USED TO BE good, but are pretty lax now.

      I like California Tortilla as a quick lunch option, they’re pretty consistent.

  • Greek spot, Chix, A Litteri, Luke’s Lobster, and Wiseguys pizza are all fun in their own ways.

  • Order Chipotle on the app/web and skip the line…. Easy peasy!

  • Cornercopia near Canal Park. Awesome sandwiches and Korean daily specials.

    • Yessss Cornercopia! Their sandwiches are excellent and the folks behind the counter are really nice. The grocery selection is always interesting, too.

  • In Crystal City: Chipotle (I don’t mind the line… I need the mental break from work), Jimmy John’s, District Taco cart, and Lemongrass food truck. There are a ton of other options (Corner Bakery, Cosi, Good Stuff, etc.) but those four are my fave my far.

  • Cafe Phillips. They’re right across the street from me. Their sandwiches aren’t cheap, but worth the price. It takes about five minutes to get a hand carved roast beef, turkey or ham sandwich. Great bread and topping selections too.

    There’s usually like ten food trucks outside my building. They can be pretty hit or miss, but I’ve never had a bad meal from Mayur Kabab House. They’re very quick and their food is excellent and very filling.

  • I actually had Roti for the first time ever this year and cannot stop eating it. So good.

    • Roti is delicious! The line gets crazy sometimes at the Penn Ave location. I always order online to avoid the line.

  • justinbc

    I’m going to exclude food trucks because they roam around to different areas so it’s hard to guarantee they’ll be at your spot when you crave them, but I’ve had good, quick experiences with both the New Orleans Po’Boy Shop and GBD for those in the Farragut / DuPont area. For Gallaudet students A Litteri might be a good option, although I don’t know of many businesses in that area that would have workers close enough by to take advantage of it. Mangialardo’s is another great option for anyone working in SE DC. It’s a shame Ebbitt Express closed up (Old Ebbitt’s separate take-out business), because they were consistently fast and much cheaper than their parent restaurant.

    • justinbc, do you eat all your meals out? It seems like you have a strong opinion of every food establishment in DC.

      • justinbc

        I do eat out quite a bit, yes. But no, not all of them. I actually enjoy cooking at home, but mostly I just love to eat good food, regardless of where it is.

  • binpetworth

    Greek Deli, Nooshi (when I can be bothered to phone in my order ahead of time), Pret

  • Mangialardo’s
    Tortilla Cafe
    Deli City
    Greek Deli
    New Young’s Deli
    Jimmy’s Grill off Maine Avenue
    Pete’s Diner
    Lincoln House Waffle Shop
    Mama Reacer’s in Del Ray
    Blue & White Carryout in Old Town
    Roy Rogers in Belle View

  • I like Au Bon Pain because you can get your sandwich on a baguette and you can get brie on it. I can’t think of another sandwich chain that offers brie.

  • Suki Asia (17th and M) has some pretty good cheap sushi and other asian specialties. TaKorean food truck = good tofu tacos. Pete’s Apizza is great for a slice.

  • brookings institute cafeteria

  • I don’t work near anything like that. You guys are so lucky!

  • Chix off U (order online for pickup), Figs Lebanese Taverna off Macarthur (amazing flavors), Red Toque in Shaw (kabobs!).

  • Amsterdam Falafel in Adam’s Morgan. Tons of modification options, and I never get tired of falafel. Ultimate grab-and-go food. If I’m closer to Columbia Heights, I second Stephanie’s suggestion of Cava Mezze for the same reason.

  • I don’t necessarily miss my old job at Franklin Square, but I certainly *do* miss getting Port of Piraeus for lunch.

  • Lot of good mentions so far. I also like West Wing (best standard deli sliced meats) and St. Michael’s Bakery on NY Ave near the White House.

  • If I’m really in a hurry, I go to Pret. Hardly any lines, just grab your sandwich and go. It’s not the most exciting lunch but they do make really good, somewhat healthy sandwiches and snacks. Food trucks around my job (near Farragut Sq) always have ridiculous lines, especially now that the weather is getting nice. Definitely NOT a fast food. I was almost late for a meeting once because it look me over 30 minutes to order, and pick up a sandwich from the Rolling Ficelle.

    • justinbc

      It was so much worse 2 summers ago when the food truck scene was really exploding here. I remember waiting over 90 minutes on Redhook Lobster’s opening week, for a really mediocre product. Thankfully I have a pretty flexible schedule.

  • Food Trucks: Rolling Ficelle, SUNdeVICH
    Brick & Mortar: Bub & Pop’s, Greek Deli, Roti

  • We don’t have a lot of great options where I work; just some crappy fast food places like Subway and McDonald’s in the Navy Yard. Chicken Tortilla was good but they closed recently. Some would say Mangialardo is close, but it’s like a 40-minute trip if you’re walking and I don’t love that place like others do. I always bring my lunch, but if something like Protein Bar opened here I’d buy my lunch a couple times a month.

    • justinbc

      Justin’s Cafe and Cornercopia are about all I can think of in that area that are open for lunch and actually decent. I’m guessing once Bluejacket opens they’ll serve lunch as well, although it probably won’t target the “fast” take-out crowd.

      • I’m east of the Navy Yard, so those places are still a 20-minute walk away (not that I’m opposed to walking, but I’d rather leave work 45 minutes earlier than spend 45 minutes getting food at lunchtime).

    • Chicken Tortilla reopened last week, FWIW. I prefer Levi’s nextdoor. For what you’re paying at Chicken Tortilla, you can have the best fried porkchop in town or two nice pieces of fried chicken, with a side of collards and some awesome mac & cheese. The bulgogi cheesesteak across the street at Al’s Delicatessen is pretty awesome. Get it with a side of kimchi. I’ve had some pretty decent luck with the food trucks at Navy Yard Metro, particularly Halal Kabob and the Indian one whose name escapes me. Over by Potomac Avenue, the wings & mambo sauce at Lucky Carryout are like crack. Also, Nooshi on Barracks Row should be opening next week.

      • Do you mean Halal Grill? I really like that food truck. Quality pita and great gyro meat.

      • Oh wow, I didn’t notice Chicken Tortilla reopened. I’ve heard good things about Levi’s but I’m not really into soul food. And the Navy Yard metro’s a bit far for those of us over at 12th Street. Looking forward to Nooshi opening!

  • Judging by some of these options I’d be better off just bringing a salt lick to work and going tongue-wild on it time-to-time.

  • Julias Empanadas, or they used to be except they keep closing the ones near me *grumble*.

  • Chick Fil-A

  • Food truck: Chef Driven and Korengy
    Restaurant: Paul, Roti and Devon & Blakely. Love the different soup options at Devon.

  • LOVE going to Farragut and seeing what delicious food truck options there are!

  • There is no better cheap, super fast lunch option than a sandwich from Gandel’s Liquors on the Hill.

  • Teaism
    1791 deli
    Protein Bar
    Burma (if you call ahead for takeout you’re in an out in half the time of the Chipotle line)

  • Taylor Gourmet and Seventh Hill are the best DC sandwiches.

    • Oh Lord, now we’ll have a whole thread going back and forth on who sells the “best” sandwiches. Can we just take it from Searlgirl’s comment that those 2 establishments make the “best” sandwiches for her. We don’t all need to chime in with who we think make the best, or dismiss her choice of “best” just because it doesn’t match our’s. Searlgirl was merely making a statement about personal preference, it does not need to be lambasted.

  • For those of us in the Tenleytown food truck desert, I like Cafe Ole. They’re quick, the food is delicious, and it’s pretty good value for money too.

    • I happen to be grateful that the food trucks haven’t made their way to Tenleytown. Who needs their litter and their complete take-over of parking spaces??

      • justinbc

        Is it the food trucks that are littering or their patrons? If it’s the patrons, wouldn’t they be just as likely to do it with Subway or BK wrappers or whatever it is that’s in Tenleytown that people want to eat at?

        • Obviously not. Bricks-and-mortar places have places to sit and eat, and they have trash cans. In the average bricks-and-mortar restaurant people either eat the food there or take it with them to their home, office, etc. With food trucks, the people who aren’t going back to their home or office eat their food on the street, and frequently leave their trash on the street.

  • I will take Teaism. The chicken bento box, although they have other good and fast offerings as well.

  • In Chinatown/Penn Quarter I stick to the food trucks (love Basil Thyme), Luke’s Lobster if I want to be extravagent, Wiseguy Pizza, Taylor’s Gourmet. I used to like Chopt and Teaism but I’ve gotten food poisoning from both of those places so they’re off my list now.

  • Not a lot of vegetarian options in my neck of the woods (near Federal Center SW), but I like the vegetarian pho at Cafe 59 and the falafel wrap at Sal’s Cafe.

  • I’m the 100th comment!

  • Arlington:
    – pho 75
    – el pollo rico
    – italian store
    – song que
    – caribbean grill
    – ravi kabob
    – kabob palace
    – delightful food court

    • justinbc

      Song Que’s bubble tea and banh mi are indeed awesome. That’s a bit far from Arlington though.

      • justinbc

        On that note though, for the folks in Alexandria, Caphe Banh Mi makes a really nice version of a banh mi and take-out is usually 10 minutes or less (or ready right away if you call ahead). It’s not quite as cheap as the $2.50-$3.50 you get at Eden Center, but for only $5 it saves you the trip of going there. They do pho too, but I’ve only ever had the sandwiches.

  • Juice Joint.

  • Food truck: Dangerously Delicious Pies (surprisingly faster than their brick&mortar store)
    Restaurants: Wiseguys Pizza, Merzi, Urfa Tomato Kabob and Chop’t

  • I love Sweetgreen. It is so good but could put a hole in my pocket if I’m not careful.

  • Chop’t. I also like the sushi and korean tacos at Whole Foods.

  • Shocked there hasn’t been a shout out for Well Dressed Burrito in Dupont / Farragut area.

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